Europe bags more Olympic medals as Canada recovers

VANCOUVER: Austria, Germany and Norway added more gold to their treasure chests while Canada set its sights on the ice dance title as the hosts came to terms with their stunning hockey loss to the United States.

Austria''s invincible ski-jumpers soared to a convincing win on Monday in the team event for a record-tying fifth consecutive title at major competitions.

Such was their dominance that they scored 1107.9 points -- the highest in Olympic team history -- to Germany''s 1035.8 and Norway''s 1030.2.

Young gun Gregor Schlierenzauer just managed to stay on his skis in the final jump of the day to lead the ''Eagles'' to victory.

"For me, this has been a perfect first Olympics," said the 20-year-old, had already picked up individual bronze on both the normal and the large hill.

Germany surged to the top of the medal table alongside the United States with its seventh gold, courtesy of their women''s cross-country team who clinched the sprint title ahead of favourites Sweden and third placed Russia.

The winning pair of Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Claudia Nystad sneaked home in a time of 18min 3.7sec, just 0.6sec ahead of the Swedes.

Norway''s Petter Northug pulled off a stunning final leg to lead his country to gold in the men''s team sprint, with Germany second and Russia third.

Canada''s Olympic plans haven''t panned out as expected and team bosses admitted Monday that they would not challenge the US and Germany on the medal table, but they defended their controversial "Own the Podium" campaign.

Before the Games started, Canada vowed to dazzle the world and walk away with the most medals but with seven days to go they lag far behind.

"I think we''d be living in a fool''s paradise to say we could catch the Americans and win. We''re not throwing in the towel. You never do that in a fight," said Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive Chris Rudge.

They have a strong chance of gold with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir going into the ice dance final round of three -- the free dance -- with a 2.60-point advantage on US champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

World champion Russian pair Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin trail in third.

Canada has never won an ice dancing gold before and Virtue and Moir are confident of re-writing the history books.

"We do like our chances," said Moir.

Virtue added: We feel like all of Canada is on the ice with us."

Canadians need something to cheer about after their National Hockey League-studded ice hockey team crashed to a shock 5-3 loss to arch-rival the United States on Sunday.

"A Super Sunday, except for Team Canada fans," groaned the Vancouver Sun newspaper while the Globe and Mail called it "Black Sunday, on ice". The Vancouver Province simply said "Damn Yankees".

It was the USA''s first Olympic victory over Canada in 50 years and condemned the hosts to a perilous future in the tournament.

The US, who lost the gold medal game at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics to their North American neighbours, received a bye into the quarter-finals while Canada must now play in the eight-team qualifying round on Tuesday against Germany.

US hockey general manager Brian Burke warned his young team against complacency.

"They don''t hand out any medals for finishing first in preliminary round play," he said. "If we don''t crank it up, this all goes for nothing."